Monday, December 21, 2015

Want to Ruin or Lose an Instrument? Leave It In The Car!

Recently, an instrument valued at $1,000,000 (yes, that's one million US dollars!) was stolen. Well, actually, I'm not sure you could say the instrument was stolen. The car that it was in was stolen. The instrument just happened to be a sweet bonus for the car thieves.
Dude, Where's My Car? And my violin????
Think it's reasonable to leave a $1,000,000 cello in the car while you go in to a store, restaurant, or a friend's house? Hmmmmm. If you had $1,000,000 in  cash- $20s, $50s, and $100s, would you leave it in the car? Of course not! So, why would anyone leave an instrument valued at that amount?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bach's Six Suites. For Cello? Or Something Else?

By Andy Fein and  Martha McDermott

Bach's 'Six Suites' are the Holy Grail of Unaccompanied Pieces for Cello.  They have been transcribed for multiple instruments including violin and viola.

Cellists often sneer at violists who perform these works. However, historical evidence suggests that these violists might not be as far off as cellists might think. What if the works were really written for a type of viola and they've been transcribed for cello??? Oh, the horrors!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Violins- New, Used, Vintage, Old, or Antique. What's Best?

By Andy Fein, violin maker, Fein Violins

"I have an old violin that's been in my family for generations......" We get a phone call that starts out like that almost every day at the shop. There's a common belief that because a violin is old, it must be valuable. Not necessarily so. In fact, the vast majority of old violins that people find tucked away in attics and closets are not worth much. Or anything. Even if the label says "Stradivarius".
From a Sears catalog circa 1910

Sunday, August 9, 2015

An American in Paris

By andy Fein and Martha McDermott

Not many pieces of classical music can claim to have inspired a series of ballets, movies, and musicals, but Gershwin's 'An American in Paris' has done all of that!

An American in Paris played by LA Phil conducted by Gustavo Dudamel

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Your (Violin) Neck Used To Be Shorter

By Andy Fein and Martha McDermott

Have you ever experienced this phenomena?- You or an orchestra friend gets some new string that's just hit the market, or a shoulder rest, or some other doodad AND it makes that violin sound GREAT! Next thing you know, every violinist in the orchestra has one! In the early nineteenth century there were huge changes going on in the violin world. First Paganini made some changes and it made his violin sound GREAT! Then next thing you knew, EVERYONE needed those changes.

It's hard to imagine an instrument as staid as the violin going through any evolutionary changes. Most of our modern violins are so standardized that if the string length is off by just a couple of millimeters, an experienced player will notice it. But early violins were not made to such standardized measurements. And one huge change that happened in the early 1800s is that the length of neck (and thus the string length) became longer! Almost no violins made before about 1830 retain their original necks. That includes Stradivaris, Guarneris, and Amatis.

Violino Piccolo in its Original Set Up by Girolamo Amati, Cremona, 1613 at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota